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Department of Social Work Education

SERVE Project Central California

region 9 tribal lands

Based at Fresno State, the SERVE Central California: A Journey to Achieving Collective Impact project is a collaborative effort of the seven California State Universities in the Central California Region: CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Bakersfield, CSU Stanislaus, Fresno State, CSU East Bay, CSU San Jose and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The SERVE project builds upon these alliances and best practices established by the coordinator as they relate to all the facets of educational achievement and field/employment placement opportunities for American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) students at those seven campuses located within the region. 

Project Coordinator, Zachary Zukovsky, serves as a liaison between AI/AN students on all seven campus programs for retention activities and graduation support. The primary function of the SERVE Project is to work directly with the Central California region universities to implement (RERG) Recruitment, Enrollment, Retention and Graduation Activities. This is accomplished through a collaboration with Tribal Entities and Agencies that work extensively with Tribal populations to conduct RERG activities at Tribal schools, cultural events, and Native gatherings of all types.

More Information:

Despite the large number of tribes in the region and in the state, American Indian and Alaska Native students (AI/AN) are exceedingly  underrepresented in both the professional social work capacity as well as higher education at state and national levels. In California, 25.3% of AI/ANs did not have high school diplomas in 2011 compared to 19.2% for non-AI/ANs. Only 17.1% had an associate or bachelor’s degree compared to non-AI/ANs (26.9%) and only 4.5% had obtained a graduate or professional degree. We are working to support and provide services that will promote graduation of AI/AN students at Universities in the CalSWEC Central California Region and increase employment opportunities for Native Americans in Tribal Child Welfare. We also work with Regional Training Academies to develop training modules and curriculum in order to increase the capacity of all the affiliated schools of social work. We do this by delivering curriculum that decreases gaps that have been identified in cultural competence. It is the goal of the SERVE project to reduce this disproportionality through capacity building and maintaining currently existing relationships with local Native American Tribes and their citizens.

The SERVE project seeks to develop and expand partnerships with the Central Valley Tribal Entities in the region. Through these partnerships, our goal is to advance child welfare efforts that are representative of the regions tribes and their cultural/traditional values. Jointly, we will develop a California State University wide working model to more effectively connect AI/AN students with campus resources that promote the health and well-being of Native communities utilizing principles of Tribal consultation.

  • Significant gains made in several areas including, but not limited to: capacity building, rebuilding and maintaining of currently existing relationships with the leadership and citizens of many of our local Native American tribes/stakeholders.
  • Promoting/Facilitating Early Childhood Literacy Programming, inclusive of a direct connection to the SERVE outcomes of both reducing disproportionality in the number of Native American social workers in the field of ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) implementation and advocacy, as well as, identifying and documenting a best practices for recruiting, enrollment, retention and graduation
  • Re-affirming the California State Universities commitment to the California tribes and their citizens (We are committed to a long-term vision and delivery of programmatic services)
  • Continued efforts to expand out to the furthest rural areas in the region
  • Continuing to build collaborative efforts with the universities Admissions and Outreach efforts
  • Continuing to actively engage in community capacity building activities, events and gatherings
  • Co-facilitated 3rd annual Native American Educational Gathering at Fresno State
  • Presence at the 38th annual conference on Native American education in California
  • Attended the California State ICWA Summit at Graton Rancheria

SERVE Strategies to be implemented in order to improve our AI/AN student retention and successExpanded out of class support

  • Integrated Career and Academic Advising
  • Improved New Student Orientation Experience
  • Developing an effective system for early notification of adverse students




I. Barrera

Dr. Irán Barrera




Zachary Zukovsky